Wien – It’s fantastiche

November 24 , 2017 – November 26, 2017

If you would have asked me 5 hours ago, I would have said our trip to Vienna was incredible. Now that I’m still at the airport going on hour 6 of the 8 hour delay, I have to pause and reassess my feelings. I think I’ll choose to still remember Vienna as an amazing city and put all of ill feelings towards the airline.*Cough* EasyJet

The main attraction for us was the Christmas markets. Vienna has several markets and we made it a goal to hit up as many as possible. The bonus of the trip was that one of Tyler’s best friends (and also Usher in our wedding), Jeff, was along for the ride. He had studied abroad in Vienna 7 years before and served as our tour guide. It was nice to let someone else take the reins for once!

The first Christmas market we visited was the Rathaus Christmas market which is the biggest one. It had a wide assortment of ornaments, toys, delicious food and beverages. We walked around for a while enjoying the decorations, scenery and Gluhwein.

Once I couldn’t feel my toes, we went to a nearby cafe called Cafe Landtmann to warm our bones and get some coffee. I really enjoyed the atmosphere and the beverages. I did not enjoy the fact that they forced us to check our coats. I mean, normally I check my coat, but I like having the option.

One of my favorite markets of the weekend was Spittelberg which kind of had a funky vibe. It’s definitely less well known, but also had more people our age. We enjoyed some potato cakes, Gluhwien, and Jeff buying a Christmas sweater of Santa riding a unicorn. There was also a cool bar nearby called the Duke and we had a pint our two.

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The evening ended at a cocktail bar called the First Floor which was so smoky we barely made it there for a whole drink and some late night doner kabob. Super lekker.

As you may know if you’ve followed this blog for any amount of time, Saturday mornings are for walking tours. I must admit, after the high of the Edinburgh walking tour, this walking tour was a low… maybe in the bottom 3 of walking tours I have even participated in. The lady was hard to hear and didn’t have super interesting stories, but I enjoyed seeing the city. We also got to see the house Mozart lived in. Funny story is that he became rich from being a famous composer, but was somewhat of a party animal and squandered his fortune on gambling and booze. So much so that his wife couldn’t even afford to have a proper burial for him. Oh well, I guess you can’t take it with you anyway.

Post walking tour we headed to Cafe Reimond, a favorite of Jeff’s when he was a student, to have some lunch. Seriously good food.

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The next item on the agenda was Schonbrunn Palace, which is a little bit out of the city, but also has a Christmas market. We got a little turned around and ended up walking in the bike lane to get to our destination. This is a big “no no” in Amsterdam and is apparently also one in Vienna because after only a few minutes, we heard from behind us “THIS IS A BIKE LANE, you wankers”. Or something close to that.

The Schonbrunn Palace was huge and beautiful. Since Jeff had already been there, he wanted to take us to the secret spot that had really good views, but I guess his memory didn’t serve him correctly and we ended up walking around in the gardens, which ended up being a pleasant detour.

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But luckily, we also did find the area he was talking about and hiked up to the top of the hill where there was a good view of the palace. After having some tea in the cafe at the top, we headed back down to partake in the Christmas market. This Christmas market was pretty cool and even had a live band singing Christmas music. We had some more of the Christmas market food before heading to the last stop of the night, the Museum Quarter market.

Apparently we should have gone there on Friday though because they had a DJ and not much was really happening on the Saturday night scene, so we went to the Maria-Theresien Christmas market down the street and Tyler had his favorite CM drink of the weekend, a hot Jack Daniels. I still don’t like whisky so I had another Gluhwein and we split a hotdog with cheese in the middle of it wrapped in bread and fried. Forget the name, but the taste was pretty incredible.

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On Sunday, we decided to go to the Sachertorte Hotel, home of the famous chocolate dessert. It was a tourist trap and extremely out of our budget to have breakfast here, so we ended up just getting the cakes. Which at like EUR 8 a piece were actually probably worth it. I mean, YOLO.

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Our last stop in Vienna was yet another Christmas market, because that is after all what we had gone there for. So we hit up the Belvedere Palace which was only a short tram ride away. I will say that the public transportation in Vienna is pretty legit. It was super easy to get around and not very confusing. We just bought a 48 hour pass and could go on any of the methods of transit.

The last Christmas market was a lot like the other ones we had been to, but I did end up getting my favorite food, the raclette which is basically just melted cheese on bread, which is basically just my favorite thing ever. Another highlight of this market was Jeff asking a lady to take our picture and her refusing. I don’t think that has ever happened to me before. But, he was persistent and we ended up snapping this beauty.

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After the market, we headed to the airport for the longest delay of my life. We were supposed to be home in Amsterdam by 6pm, but ended up landing after 2am instead. Needless to say, I was very tired for work on Monday, but it was another successful weekend trip!

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Skiing in the Alps

March 30, 2017 – April 2, 2017

What a great weekend of castles, skiing, sunbathing, partying, and 100 of your closest coworkers. I’m talking about the annual EY Ski Trip, of course. This year, the festivities took place in a small Austrian town in the heart of the Alps called Mayrhofen.

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We flew into Munich and rented an 8 passenger van (shoutout to Chris who was the best driver) to make a pit stop at the Neuschwanstein Castle, which is the inspiration for the Walt Disney Castle. We hiked up to the top of the hill to get a closer look and also viewed the castle from across the bridge.

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The views on the way from the castle to Mayrhofen were incredible and we pulled over on the side of the road to snap some pictures.

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And we made a stop in Innsbruck for a few beers before the final destination. We were the only ones at the bier garten, but we didn’t let that stop us from having a great time.

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Finally, we made it to Mayrhofen. The city itself is in a valley, and to get to the top of the mountain you have to take a gondola, which was slightly terrifying if you’re not so into heights.

IMG_1141This is the view from the front of the gondola. See the city waay down there? and the other yellow gondola cars.. 

The first night we met up with the other EY’ers at the club that happened to be attached to our hotel.

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We called it an early night so that we could get prepared for a full day of skiing on Friday. I polled my Instagram followers for any first time skier tips and the consensus was that ski lessons were a must, so Tyler, Noah, and I signed up for a 4 hour lesson on the slopes.

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Boy were my Instagram followers right – the lesson was a must. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing with skis on my feet. It took the first 2 hours just to be able to glide around in the skis with no incline whatsoever. But after lunch, we graduated to the bunny slopes and I started getting the hang of things.

IMG_1078Magic carpet ride to the top of the bunny slopes + Noah selfie

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By the end of the day, Noah and I were gliding down the blues without falling too many times, and Tyler was enjoying the beer on the mountain. We all had a great time, and there were no injuries!

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At the top of the mountain there was an igloo bar where we had some refreshments before heading back down the mountain.

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What a successful day of skiing! While we were up on the mountain, the rest of the crew was in their bathing suits getting a tan since the temperature was about 75 F down in the town. We went out with the EY crew again and listened to the Johnny Depp song on repeat – the Germans really love that song. (here’s the link if you’re interested https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CE70PHlgrlo ). Since the details of the party are pretty hazy, I’ll skip ahead to Saturday.

I debated on whether or not to do another round of skiing, but I woke up and was incredibly sore and the whole getting the skis and the boots and walking to the lift ordeal just seemed like it was too much. Besides, the skiers decided to go down the other mountain and I didn’t feel like I was ready for that kind of challenge. Instead, Tyler and I decided to go for a hike through the city and the mountains. I was happy with this decision as it was peaceful and beautiful.

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After the hike, we wanted to go up the mountain one last time, and ended up just watching people fall down this one really steep part. It was hilarious.

IMG_9075IMG_9074IMG_1138As it usually is, Saturday night was the biggest night out and we partied til the wee hours of the night at the club.

On Sunday we headed back to Munich to catch our late afternoon flight and got a taste of what a treat we are in for when we head back for Oktoberfest. We stopped at a lekker biergarten called Zum Aumeister (highly recommend you hit this place up if you’re in the area) and had some huge beers and even bigger pretzels. The weather was perfect and we sat around enjoying each other’s company before heading to the airport.

As always, I had a great time with a great crew. The main lesson I learned from ski weekend is that I can’t hang with the young kids anymore. Especially the Dutchies. Most of us came back with a sinus infection that is still lingering. Hopefully we will get better soon, because the 8 of us will be drinking Guinness in Dublin in t-4 days.